Liverpool Parish Church, Our Lady & St Nicholas

Liverpool Parish Church, Our Lady & St Nicholas

We quite often hear of places being described as ‘an oasis’ within an otherwise hectic environment, and if ever this phrase was ever justified then the gardens of St Nicholas in Liverpool fit the bill. That is not to say that it is short of visitors, and it is certainly not to say its history is anything but rich, fascinating, and frequently controversial.

From being a vantage point to see the arrival of Royals and grand ships, a parade of the towns well-to-do, a final resting place for rich and poor, a gathering point for ‘drunks and rogues’, to a place associated with slaver captains, St Nicholas gardens, or perhaps more accurately churchyard, has had it all.

There has been an abundance written about St Nicks and I do not endeavour to attempt a comprehensive history of this place, but instead offer an illustrated time-line that will transport you through time, and many links for your continued exploration.

Apologies for any errors, please let me know if you spot any.

Link to PDF

‘Homeless Jesus’ St Nicks April 2019

Advertisements
Posted in Buildings, Churches | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Compton House, Church St, Liverpool – A History

“Compton House. Established 1832.

Destroyed by Fire, December, 1865.

Rebuilt, 1867”

1868 – Liverpool Records Office: 942.71PIC

Liverpool has a rich heritage when it comes to retail, the names of Owen Owen, George Henry Lee, T J Hughes, Bon Marche, Henderson’s, Bunney’s, Littlewoods, and of course Lewis’s have long associations with the city, and still hold memories for many Liverpudlians. We also of course were home to the first UK branch of Woolworth’s which opened in 1909. In this rich history one street above all has been front of house, Church Street, and it is here that our story will in essence begin in 1832.

It would take a far more adept wordsmith than I to do it justice but the story that unfolded from humble beginnings does indeed sound like the stuff of a grand BBC period drama, or dare I say it even a Hollywood film. The BBC drama ‘Paradise’ springs to mind. Poor boy made good, great friendship, love, tragedy, high finance, social history, a dramatic fire, the building of a ‘great edifice’, overcoming adversity, a controversial trial, political intrigue, financial impropriety, and the swift fall of the once mighty, it has it all.

If you are in the legal profession why not share your thoughts on the 1866 trial.

The history has been woven around newspaper cuttings of the day and could not have been complied without the superb resource British Newspaper Archives – https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/

If you can add anything to the history, have information on the current building, have any queries, or have spotted any errors please do contact me via the contact page.

I hope you enjoy the read!

Rex.

Link to PDF 

Please feel free to share but I would be grateful if you referenced the source.

 

Posted in Buildings, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Baltic Creative and the William Smith Warehouse

Any new development in Liverpool tends to attract mixed comments, but especially when it also involves an old building; in this case the former William Smith Warehouse on Norfolk/Simpson Street

At the time of writing the following Tweet in Sept 2017, you can see this time the response proved to be very popular:

Baltic Creative revealed exciting plans to redevelop the unlisted building into a ‘Tech Hub’ for creative and digital businesses.

Planning permission was granted, a design team and a main contractor appointed, and then the considerable task of converting the building began back in November 2017. You can view the planning application here 16F/1133 and the ‘Design & Access Statement’ by K2 Architects here

People will have their own views (I like them) on the architectural/aesthetic merits of the redevelopment but there does seem to be universal approval for the efforts to save the building.

Part of the appreciation for the building comes from living memories of the site as Guinness Export Ltd, a large local employer for many years, and also as a result of it being one of a dwindling number of such buildings remaining in the Baltic Triangle (and indeed in the wider city).

A history of the site, building, and a little on William Smith….

The building was erected in two phases, the first phase in 1881 a 4-storey storage warehouse. It was then expanded with a 2-storey extension in 1882 along Simpson St and what was part of New Brick St. According to historical records the buildings were built by William Smith, a paper stock, metal and general merchant who lived at 30 Great George Square. He also actually resided in Norfolk St prior to buying the site to build his warehouse.

We know he lived in Norfolk St from this cutting, which tells of the death of his father-in-law Dominick Quinn: Liverpool Daily Post – Wednesday 16 October 1867

It appears that Mr Quinn was in a similar line of work as William, being a ‘dealer in sacks, bags, mats, twine’ from his premises at 15 York Street for some 25 years. Did William meet his wife through a works do I wonder!?

We have further confirmation of William Smith living at 65 Norfolk Street, prior to demolition, from the Gores Directories of 1865/67.

The first evidence of William being a marine-store dealer comes from a report in the Liverpool Daily Post of Friday 25th July 1856 telling how he had been fined:

You can see he was trading in Brick St which is next to Norfolk Street. There is a possibility that this was actually his father trading, as his name was also William Smith. We know his fathers name from juniors marriage details. The marriage to Bridget Quinn (a bit of doubt re ‘Bridget’ as the record is hard to read) took place on 9th July 1852 in Liverpool. The parents are recorded as William Smith of Brick St and Dominick Quinn of Flint St. The witnesses were John Quinn and Mary Quinn.

William managed to get the wrong side of the law again in 1870 when he was summoned for operating without a horse license, receiving a hefty £5 fine.

This area of The Baltic Triangle was at this time going through some considerable change. It had developed rapidly with the expanding southern dock system. As recently as 1785 our site had still been fields/paddocks owned by ‘the late Mr Jackson:

With docks then arriving rapidly; Kings 1877, Queens 1796 change was inevitable and leases are evident from 1803 on New Brick Street (this the section between Simpson and Chaloner Streets). Watkinson/Norfolk St still have gardens in 1807, but by 1849 court housing (see Ormandy and Davies on map), warehouses, and industry are prevalent. We read of numerous deaths in Lower Brick Street during 1854 due to a cholera outbreak:

1807

1849

From 1859 a new wave of development is evident with the Corporation beginning to sell land, widen and extend streets, and demolishing old housing. It is this phase that allows William Smith to buy the existing buildings in May 1880, and then demolish and redevelop his site. The sale notice:

Liverpool Mail – Saturday 01 May 1880

William managed to purchase the land for £580, with a stipulation ‘to be rebuilt within 3 years’:

William clearly met the 3 year stipulation, although he continued to trade at 60 & 62 Brick Street until 1882 (Gores).  He is also listed at 78 Gregson Street Everton perhaps suggesting he set up temporary shop during building works, or more likely was just living there?

The 1881 Street Directory lists William Smith, Marine Store Dealer at 61-63 Norfolk Street. A Marine Store Dealer was a licensed broker who bought and sold used cordage, bunting, rags, timber, metal and other general waste materials. He usually sorted the purchased waste by kind, grade etc. He also repaired and mended sacks etc.

The Norfolk St warehouse of 1881 followed following a simple design common in Liverpool at the time – raised loading bay/doors to accommodate carts, narrow pedestrian access, stairs and protruding hoist. The position of the stairs is indicated by the tier of small windows included to admit light.

K2 Architects say of the buildings erected by Smith:

‘the smaller section to the rear is of a different style and proportion, suggesting it was used for something other than storage. Our research would suggest it housed a delivery entrance and an office/admin area. The huge 500mm thick walls, highly engineered façade and crafted metal work over the entrance would also suggest this warehouse was of high importance when Liverpool was at the height of its trading days’

The dates on the two buildings indicate the separate building phases/opening.

During this time he was clearly doing well and is now living at 3o Great George Square (listed at no. 7 in 1879). He would however soon be visited by misfortune in losing his son:

Liverpool Mercury – Wednesday 11th January 1882

Fire insurance maps from 1890 show Smith’s buildings in use as a ‘Rag WHSE’ and ‘Rag Sorting’. Records also show he was trading as a ‘paper stock merchant’:

1890 – Fire Insurance Map

Over ten years after building the new warehouses we learn that Mr Smiths business has run into trouble, and in 1894 we see the warehouse and its contents for sale:

At this time the street directory is showing:

  • 1894 – Smith, William marine-store dealer & paper stock merchant 30 Gt. George Square W. warehouse 61 & 65 Norfolk St
    • 61 to 65 Norfolk St. Smith Wm. paper-stock merchants,
    • 75 Norfolk St. Bruce & Still iron roof manufacturers,
    • 79 Norfolk St. Hall Thos. B & Co export bottlers Ross W.A. & Brother ale and porter exporters (these become relevant as the history progresses)

The Liverpool Mercury of Tuesday 2nd April 1895 illustrates the final demise of the business with a second winding up order, which also suggests he had needed to move house:

This is the last information I found on William Smith…..I wonder what became of him?

One man’s misfortune is another man’s gain as we say and the warehouses continued to provide opportunity. They appear to have been empty for a couple of years but then in 1898 the directory shows:

61 to 65 Norfolk St., Davies John E marine-store dealer

Mr Davies, who had previously traded near by in Simpson Street, is listed as trading at the address up until 1911

Looking at the 1906 map we see the buildings are neighboured by a ‘Bottle Works’ where in 1900 the Guinness association had started:

This would later become the Guinness Export Bottling Plant, as did the Smith Warehouse.

1906

The street directory of 1914 introduces Arthur Samuel Hooper for the first time:

  • 1914 – A.S. Hooper at 45 Lydia Anne St and also at 61 – 65 Norfolk St
  • 1915 – 61 to 65 Norfolk St., Hooper Arthur Stanley seed merchant (telephone 2036 Royal)

Arthur was a ‘Seed Merchant’ – A S Hooper, whose name could still be seen above the corner doorway prior to the recent redevelopment:

A S Hooper

Mr Hooper clearly did very well and his business survived until at least 1962. Back in 1941 he was, as many, taking precautions to safeguard his premises from the threat of German bombers:

Interestingly there is a Liverpool Councillor called A.S. Hooper at this time. I have not been able to determine if they are one of the same.

The above picture also details ‘Walshs Ltd’ and the numbers 61 63 65, and thanks to a response to my initial blog on the warehouse we learn:

‘AS Hooper was acquired by Walshs Limited of Blackburn who operated under the Magnet Pet Foods brand. Hooper was an old established business founded in 1900. In the 30’s it became part of Magnet which manufactured dog biscuits, supplied bird seed and fish food and made bird cages and accessories for the pet trade. In the 60’s the whole concern was acquired by Garfield Weston and Associated British Foods’

Many will know the door, although not realise where it was, and I am pleased to say it has been retained untouched in the completed redevelopment:

In c1940 the bottling plant next door on Norfolk St had changed from T.B Hall’s to Alexander Macfee  & Co Ltd., export bottlers. In 1950 they would in turn change their name: 

From 1952 (no directory published in 1951) we see:

    • Guinness Exports Ltd at 71 – 83 Norfolk St

In 1962 AS Hooper is still there, but in 1963 there is no directory entry for our warehouses and it appears this is when Guinness Export expand their footprint, in 1964 they are now listed at 65 – 83 Norfolk St.

Many will have good memories of working at the Guinness plant (I would love to hear more), it was by all accounts a great place to work with an active social scene.

Via Twitter @johnbdm tells us of the 1882 warehouse facing Simpson St:

‘it was called the tank room, and had three I think large stainless steel vessels of about 250 barrels each – a barrel being 36 gallons’

…..and we learn the name of the fork-lift truck driver!

Guinness Export Ltd finally closed in early 1986, moving to Runcorn, with the loss of many jobs. Local MP at the time Robert Parry would raise this in Parliament in the context of the wider catastrophic Merseyside job losses.

In 1988/89 the main building, which was originally between Brick St and Norfolk St, and which had stood empty for a number of years was leased by Skillion Holdings.  It would appear that the William Smith warehouse was at this time cast aside to slowly deteriorate……..until the recent rescue.

On 19th July 1990 Skillion open Charlotte and Shipwrights House at 67-83 Norfolk  St., and by 1991 are proclaiming them 90% full:

Liverpool Echo – Thursday 11 April 1991

Conclusion

How refreshing is it, that at a time when developers are so keen to send in the bulldozers, that a local organisation with local interests at heart are prepared to go that extra mile to preserve rather than destroy. Of course, this is not just out of sentimentality but because they feel it makes good business sense and meets the needs of a unique area of Liverpool. Having had a glimpse of what awaits inside I am sure people will be impressed. Can’t wait to see the café area, basement, and roof terrace in full working mode.

I wish Baltic Creative all the best in their endeavours to now fill the building with creative flare!

Let’s hope this is not the last such redevelopment in the Baltic Triangle.

…………..a few interesting snippets thanks to people on Twitter:

John Coakley‏ @jhcoakley

I see W Smith lived in 30 Great George Square, where my grandfather and uncle lived and worked as GPs. I then worked in Guinness Exports….

You weren’t allowed to drink the Guinness. It was a bonded warehouse patrolled by HM Customs. Instant dismissal or prosecution…. ….nevertheless you came home reeking of Guinness!

We sent Guinness all over the world (a lot of embassies), which is how I knew where to buy it in Greece.

Nov 2017

Scaffolding has been erected around the site and the road is closed for 40 weeks.

Nov 2017

Nov 2018

February 2019…..looking good

February 2019

More interesting pictures here illustrating the renovation task that was undertaken: https://www.28dayslater.co.uk/threads/william-smith-warehouse-liverpool-nov-2017.110799/

For further information on the development contact:

info@baltic-creative.com or visit http://www.baltic-creative.com

If you are interested in historic Liverpool warehouses I thoroughly recommend reading this book/PDF file

Posted in 1850 - 1899, Buildings, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beyond Saving…

As it always sadly will be, we still have a list of buildings, large and small, that are in desperate need of investment and indeed saving. Some have plans in the pipeline but it is important we keep them in the public eye, let them never get to ‘beyond saving’. These currently include:

  • The Wellington Rooms
  • 10 Hockenhall Alley
  • Gwalia/Sandfield Tower
  • Heaps Mill
  • The Lyceum
  • 11 – 13 Cheapside
  • Eldon Grove
  • ABC/Forum Cinema, Lime St
  • Everton Library
  • Welsh Cathedral, Prince Road
  • Fruit Exchange, Victoria St
  • Bank of England, Dale St
  • Newsham Park Orphanage
  • Magistrates Courts, Dale St

…..I am sure there are others we could add

BEYOND SAVING…… by Liverpool1207

There’s a phrase in Liverpool that many dread

A bit like ‘sorry fella I think it’s dead’,

Now if I’m honest that’s a bit extreme

But I’m sure you’ll soon see what I mean.

 

So, bricks and mortar are not everyone’s bag

But living without them is hell of a drag,

The buildings around us are more than just walls,

They are history, they are culture, they are know it all’s!

 

If walls could speak, you know that saying,

I wonder if many are actually praying?

It’s gonna take insight to safeguard our space,

To save what we call a sense of place.

 

From Lime Street to The Customs House, and not just to The Blitz,

We’ve lost cinemas, pubs, churches, and so many other bits!

St Johns Market, the Sailors Home, and the Dockers Umbrella

So many have fallen to that demolition fella.

 

Some call it progress, some call it greed,

Some say it’s the stuff on which developers feed.

But why is the new so square-like and bland,

Not like the Three Graces prestigious and grand!

 

Everton Library, Gwalia, Heaps Mill,

The Lyceum, The Forum, Eldon Grove all look ill.

Twitter and Facebook, the on-line petition

That Echo headline, the Councillor’s rendition

 

The render promises, the developers call,

We know it’s leading to when the walls will fall,

We are promised jobs, and some trees for campaignin,

But we’re sorry folks its now beyond savin!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Churches of Liverpool – David Lewis

The Churches of Liverpool

David Lewis

The Bluecoat Press ISBN 1 872568 76 9

INDEX

Those of you whom have read or own a copy of David Lewis’s book will know what a superb and informative read it is. As David himself says ‘church history is a passion’ and this book certainly does Liverpool’s rich stock of churches great justice. Excellent text and excellent pictures provide a fascinating insight into a key part of our city’s history.

There has in spite of the above been one flaw highlighted by many……..the lack of an Index. Until now!

I have compiled the attached Index in spreadsheet and PDF format and I hope you find them useful. Both documents can be searched using church names, street names, or year. Note I have used both St/Street and Rd/Road. I Have not used apostrophes.

I am sure there will be the odd error and/or omission so please do let me know so I can amend the master copies and update. Feel free to download, and I hope they add to your enjoyment of David’s excellent book. Click the following links:

PDF   –   SPREADSHEET

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wellington Rooms

Wellington Rooms – Mount Pleasant: 1815-16

This is another of Liverpool’s empty buildings that creates much discussion and debate, and one that holds many memories for many people. How fantastic would it be to see this gem alive once again with the sounds of laughter and music, of course with access to the general public! We have waited too long.

Efforts to save the building have been stepped up in recent years with an open-day/consultation hosted by the Merseyside Building Preservation Trust (MBPT) held in the building on 21st March 2018, and current lobbying by @LHUIrishSociety  to see the much loved ‘Irish Centre’ reborn. This follows work done earlier in the year by specialists Quadriga to carry out urgent repairs and make the building water-tight.

Wellington Reading Rooms - opened 1816

The Grade II* Wellington Rooms is a neo-classical building designed by Edmund Aikin, erected by subscription, and located on Mount Pleasant. It was built 1815 – 16 and the first function was the Ladies Charity Ball held on 31st Dec 1816.

The Wellington Club became a key part of the Liverpool social scene in the 19th Century as a venue for dancing, drama, and other entertainment.

A key annual event that took place here was the ‘Steeplechase Ball’ when it is said the grand national winner would be paraded around the ballroom with flannelled hooves! ….not sure on this one 🙂

Pevsner’s guide tells us that the central projecting colonade was originally open but infilled in the 1820s as it gave insufficient shelter. Porches on the west for sedan chairs, and on the east for carriages have also been enclosed (Pevsner Architectural Guides – Liverpool) 

The Wellington Club, or ‘The Rooms’ was wound up in 1923 after failing to regain its popularity post-WWI. We have a fascinating account, written by Sir William Forwood and published in the Liverpool Echo on 20th January 1923. This piece not only gives a snapshot of the elitist goings on at ‘The Rooms’ but also changing Liverpool life for those that frequented it:

 

Most current memories will of course relate back to the buildings days as the Irish Centre from 1965-97:

Time-line

  • 23rd January 1923 – 1930 Embassy Rooms, then sold
  • 1940 – 52 Rodney Youth Centre (later Mulberry St)
  • 1956 – 62 Used by Sisters of Notre Dame for educational purposes
  • Liverpool Irish Centre 1st February 1965 – 1997 inc. Kennedy’s Bar
  • 1997 – Long-running but ultimately unsuccessful efforts to save the Irish Centre
  • 2000 – Developer took over the 99-year lease
  • 2002 – features as one of the original buildings in the Liverpool Echo ‘Stop the Rot’ campaign
  • A proposed conversion to a 48 bedroom hotel was rejected by Liverpool City Council on 21 May 2007.
  • In 2011 opened its doors as part of Heritage Open Month, which led to formation of the ‘Friends of 127’. This project appears to have sadly fallen by the wayside.
  • Heritage Works has undertaken two feasibility/options appraisal studies for the Wellington Rooms, which have explored new uses that can be contained within the existing building and with minimum intervention into the historic fabric. The first explored the viability of Dance Liverpool’s dance centre proposal. The second considered office, function room, restaurant and University uses.
  • 2015 – another scheme announced – University of Liverpool, and John Moores University
  • 2018 – Specialist Quadriga carry out urgent repair works
  • 2018 – new proposals/consultation

Liverpool City Council owns the freehold of the site and also has statutory responsibilities for the listed building.

1997: Liverpool Echo

IrishCentre1997

Further Reading:

Liverpool Records Office Ref. 367 WTN covering dates 1840 – 1933

Heritage Works

‘Another Irish Ruin’ – Gerry Gordon

Video taken in 2011 during Heritage Open Month showking the interior of the building 

As the building looked during works in Feb 2018 – James O’Hanlon:

 

Posted in 1800 - 1849, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Hardman Street History 1816 – 2018

Link to PDF

 

Posted in 1800 - 1849, 1850 - 1899, Buildings, Churches | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

St Philip’s Church, Hardman St, Liverpool. 1816……….2017

Was the Conservation Statement supporting demolition at best inaccurate?

UPDATE: History now completed – Link

Having survived for two hundred years entombed by surrounding buildings St Philip’s is no more. The bulldozers finally came calling.

St Philip’s was one of three churches in Liverpool designed by Thomas Rickman and constructed by John Cragg proprietor of the Mersey Iron Foundry, in which cast iron was used in new and innovative ways. The church opened in 1816 and closed in 1882 before then being enclosed by other buildings, most latterly Atlantic/Hardman House (a full history will follow). The arguments for and against saving these later buildings is for another day.

I am now in the process of researching another ‘short-history’ of a lost Liverpool building, but the immediate question in this instance, based on the evidence strewn about us, has to be however ‘was the Conservation Report supporting demolition and the planning application at best inaccurate?’

You can read or download here the full Conservation Statement which was submitted to support the controversial planning application, and draw your own conclusions. Within it you will read:

5.4 Much less survives at St Philip’s. Were St Philip’s to remain in its original state, it would probably be listed Grade II*. For although no impression of the interior survives to allow a definite judgement to be made, it is probably safe to say that the church would never have compared in terms either of innovation or aesthetic quality with St George or St Michael. What survives of St Philip’s today, however, is so little that any significance it has is almost entirely historical. The only physical features of value are the fragmentary section of the west window (in a modern and inappropriate setting) and the in-situ hood mould. These are features which would not lose what significance they have if they were removed and reset either on site or elsewhere.

The evidence to be seen on the demolition site, some set aside some on pile heaps, seems to suggest otherwise:

At this point in time it is unclear what the developers intentions are with regard to these important relics from one of Liverpool’s most historically important churches. We must hope, were possible, they are restored and put on display along with interpretation boards sharing the history of the church. This could be within the Museum of Liverpool, or a suggestion has been made that they could perhaps form part of a public sculpture within the grounds of the contemporary ‘Bombed Out Church’. Perhaps something within the grounds of the planned student development…as long as fully accessible to the public!

Liverpool Council have been informed of the finds.

“The three cast iron churches erected by Cragg in Liverpool mark an extraordinary episode in church building, and are chiefly remarkable for their pioneering use of cast iron” – Conservation Statement

Posted in Uncategorized | 18 Comments

Redevelopment of William Smith warehouse, Norfolk St, Liverpool

Redevelopment of the William Smith Warehouse 61/63 Norfolk St

The completed redevelopment – February 2019

The debate about Liverpool’s heritage never really abates, and with the continuing threat from UNESCO to withdraw our World Heritage Site status it has again been much in the news.

Liverpudlians care deeply about our history, and cherish very much the tangible signs we retain around our city. This applies not only to our great statements of glorious days past such as the Royal Liver Buildings, St George’s Hall, and Lime St Station, but also to the less glamourous and obvious buildings that act as a conduit to both distant and more recent history.

You may be familiar with my (far too many) tweets, most of which are in relation to our history and buildings. My key aim, in addition to fuelling my own interest, is to encourage others to also appreciate our incredible history – that which we can still ‘see’ and that which is confined to ‘print’. Some tweets get more reaction than others but one topic that always generates a response is the loss of what people consider to be a heritage building. A recent example in case being that of Bushell’s Building on Springfield which was recently demolished by Mersey Fire for a steel training tower

https://twitter.com/Liverpool1207/status/729385836173766657

https://twitter.com/Liverpool1207/status/903246841936048129

Positively though more response came from a good news story were a building was to be appropriately redeveloped to serve a new use – William Smith’s Warehouse

At the time of writing the following tweets, as you can see, proved to be very popular:

Baltic Creative has revealed plans to redevelop the unlisted building into a ‘Tech Hub’ for creative and digital businesses.

Planning permission has been granted, a design team appointed, and they are now seeking a main contractor with a view to starting works in November 2017. You can view the planning application here 16F/1133 and the ‘Design & Access Statement’ by K2 Architects here

People will have their own views (I love them) on the architectural/aesthetic merits of the redevelopment but there does seem to be universal approval for the efforts to save the building.

Part of the appreciation for the building comes from living memories of the site as Guinness Export, a large local employer for many years, and also as a result of it being one of a dwindling number of such buildings remaining in the Baltic Triangle (and indeed in the wider city).

A Short History of the Building

The building was built in two phases, the first phase in 1881 a 4-storey storage warehouse. It was then expanded with a 2-storey extension in 1882 along Simpson St and what was the lower part of Brick St. According to historical records the buildings were built by William Smith, a paper stock, metal and general merchant who lived at 78 Gregson St Everton, and later in Great George Square.

He purchased the land for £580 during Corporation sales in May 1880:

It seems William may well have been living in one of the properties at the time as we see this reported in the Liverpool Daily Post of Wednesday 16 October 1867:

The 1881 Street Directory lists William Smith, Marine Store Dealer at 61-63 Norfolk Street. A Marine Store Dealer was a licensed broker who bought and sold used cordage, bunting, rags, timber, metal and other general waste materials. He usually sorted the purchased waste by kind, grade etc. He also repaired and mended sacks etc.

Fire insurance maps from 1890 show the buildings as a ‘Rag WHSE’ and ‘Rag Sorting’:

1890 – Fire Insurance Map

Mr Smiths business clearly ran into trouble and we see the warehouse and its contents for sale in 1894:

Documents then indicate that Mr Smith was declared bankrupt in 1895.

The K2 Architects documents say:

‘the smaller section to the rear is of a different style and proportion, suggesting it was used for something other than storage. Our research would suggest it housed a delivery entrance and an office/admin area. The huge 500mm thick walls, highly engineered facade and crafted metal work over the entrance would also suggest this warehouse was of high importance when Liverpool was at the height of its trading days’

Looking at the 1906 map we see the building is neighboured by a ‘Bottle Works’. This at some point became part of Guinness Export Bottling Plant, as did the Smith Warehouse.

1906

The complex is seen for sale again in April 1906:

By the 1930s the building is listed as a Seed Merchants – A S Hooper, whose name can still be seen above the corner doorway:

A S Hooper

Mr Hooper was still there in 1941 and, as many, taking precautions to safeguard his premises from the threat of German bombers:

Interestingly there is a Liverpool Councillor called A.S. Hooper at this time. I have not been able to determine if they are on eof the same.

The above picture also details ‘Walshs Ltd’ and the numbers 61 63 65 and thanks to a response to the is blog we learn:

AS Hooper was acquired by Walshs Limited of Blackburn who operated under the Magnet Pet Foods brand. Hooper was an old established business founded in 1900. In the 30’s it became part of Magnet which manufactured dog biscuits, supplied bird seed and fish food and made bird cages and accessories for the pet trade. In the 60’s the whole concern was acquired by Garfield Weston and Associated British Foods.

Many will know the door, although not realise where is was, and I am pleased to say it has been retained untouched in the completed redevelopment:

 

I need to do some more research on the Guinness tenancy, there by 1961 but may be much earlier. Prior to 1950 they were actually called ‘Alexander Macfee & Co. Ltd.

It is apparent that Guinness Exports Ltd expanded several times over the years and many will have good memories of working at the plant (I would love to hear more). It finally closed in early 1986, moving to Runcorn, with the loss of many jobs. Local MP at the time Robert Parry would raise this in Parliament in the context of the wider catastrophic Merseyside job losses.

In 1988/89 the main building, which was originally between Brick St and Norfolk St, and which had stood empty for a number of years was leased by Skillian an Australian Self Storage Company. It is now home to Safestore

How refreshing is it, that at a time when developers are so keen to send in the bulldozers, that a local organisation with local interests at heart are prepared to go that extra mile to preserve rather than destroy. Of course, this is not just out of sentimentality but because they feel it makes good business sense and meets the needs of a unique area of  Liverpool.

I wish Baltic Creative all the best in their endeavours to bring these buildings back to life, and hope they have good luck in overcoming the inevitable hurdles ahead.

Let’s hope this is not the last such redevelopment in the Baltic Triangle.

…………..a few interesting snippets thanks to people on Twitter:

John Coakley‏ @jhcoakley

I see W Smith lived in 30 Great George Square, where my grandfather and uncle lived and worked as GPs. I then worked in Guinness Exports….

You weren’t allowed to drink the Guinness. It was a bonded warehouse patrolled by HM Customs. Instant dismissal or prosecution…. ….nevertheless you came home reeking of Guinness!

We sent Guinness all over the world (a lot of embassies), which is how I knew where to buy it in Greece.

Update: Nov 2017

Scaffolding  has now been erected around the site (possibly for safety works) and the road is closed for 40 weeks. Hopefully this means we will see a start soon!

Nov 2017

Update: Nov 2018

UPDATE – February 2019…..looking good

February 2019

More interesting pictures here illustrating the renovation task that was undertaken: https://www.28dayslater.co.uk/threads/william-smith-warehouse-liverpool-nov-2017.110799/

If you are interested in historic Liverpool warehouses I thoroughly recommend reading this book/PDF file

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Fruit Exchange, Victoria St

A building that comes from a key trade in Liverpool, a building sadly in disrepair:

HISTORY: No.10-16 Victoria Street was built in c.1888 as a railway goods depot for the London & North Western Railway and was converted into a fruit exchange in 1923 by James B Hutchins. The building was originally constructed to serve Exchange Station on Tithebarn Street (the first station was built in 1850 and a larger version constructed in 1886-8; this eventually closed in 1950). After its change of use in 1923 the Fruit Exchange became the main trading point for fruit produce within the city and dealt with the majority of fruit imports coming into Liverpool. Warehouses in the Mathew Street area behind were used to store the fruit sold at the exchange. In the late C20 the lower ground floor was converted into separate public houses.

A must see video from the BBC:

Fruit Exchange, Victoria Street, exterior, 1940 – zoomable image

Lets hope a new use can be found and this gem is still here for future generations to see

As featured in the Liverpool Echo: Pictures by Colin Lane – April2016

The Fruit Exchange is owned by Cloudbluff Properties, whose director, Robert McGorrin, has been hoping to secure a viable long-term future for it since 2009.

He says: “It’s a great building – the auction rooms are unbelievable. There is so much history attached to the place.”

Footnote: I am advised that the owners have been carrying out some work to preserve the structural integrity of the building. As for future usage the Grade II listing of the building limits the alterations that can be made. Options are being explored.

Posted in 1850 - 1899, Buildings | 3 Comments